Why did Biden choose Chicago for the Democrat convention?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Chicago is a very troubled city so naturally, the Democrats are going to reward its failures with the economic boom brought about by hosting the Democrat National Convention in August. Will the delegates and guests be advised to wear bulletproof vests with their convention clothes? That is mostly a little snarky but it sure makes a person shake her head when such news is announced.

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Why Chicago when they could have had their convention in a city like Atlanta? Granted, Atlanta has some problems with violence and crime, as all big blue cities do, but I would have thought that a focus in 2024 will be on retaining Georgia in the D column for the presidential election. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have made numerous trips to Atlanta since they came into office, pandering to voters. It looks like they are more concerned about winning the Midwest states in 2024.

The DNC made the announcement on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Democratic National Committee said Chicago had been chosen because it represents a “wide range of midwestern Democrats who represent the diversity of the party, demonstrating the formidable coalition that will help re-elect President Biden and Vice President Harris and elect Democrats up-and-down the ticket.”

Diversity? Not to nitpick but there is just as much in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Oh well. It’s one of the important Democrat buzzwords that must be included in every statement.

About six months ago, the Republican National Committee chose Milwaukee to host its 2024 national convention. The Midwest was once crucial to both parties but in recent election cycles, the region has gone more to Republicans. For example, Obama won Ohio twice but Trump won Ohio by 8 points in both 2016 and 2020. In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin and Michigan but Biden flipped those states in 2020. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said the Midwest is “key to a victory in 2024, and there is no city better positioned to reach those voters than Chicago.”

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In a change from the norm, Democrats chose a solidly blue city in a safely blue state. Normally, Democrats would hold their party convention in a blue city in a swing state, as they did in Philadelphia in 2016 and Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012. In 2020 the convention was set to be held in Milwaukee but because of the pandemic, it was completely virtual.

This time around, Democrats have a deeply unpopular incumbent president who will soon announce his plan to run for re-election. His lack of self-awareness is staggering. His mental and physical decline is obvious. I would imagine his unpopularity and the fact that only about 30% of Democrats want Biden to run in 2024 caused him and DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison to choose Chicago.

The convention will be good for the city’s coffers and local business. And, it will bring union jobs.

As CBS Chicago has reported, local state and political leaders had been lobbying for the DNC to bring the convention to the city. Mayor Lori Lightfoot told the station in July that the convention could bring up to $200 million into the local economy and 50,000 visitors to the city for the week of the convention. And Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker told CBS Chicago that “hosting the DNC in Chicago in 2024 will bring thousands of labor-friendly jobs to our city and our state.”

There are some reasons for the choice of Chicago that are emerging. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it’s all about the money and the union jobs.

The Pritzker family pledged to cover any cost overruns for the massive event to keep the DNC debt-free in the crucial election year. And there are far more deep-pocketed Democratic donors in Chicago than Atlanta. The money talked. As one Democrat told us, politics gets you to the finals, but money gets you the deal.

The lack of union hotels in Atlanta contrasted with Chicago’s reputation as a pro-union city, and that may have weighed on a president that said he would be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.

”While Chicago crime is always a concern, Atlanta has its own thorny issues, including continuing violent crime and progressives’ outrage over the public safety training facility. There could also be fallout if District Attorney Fani Willis decides to bring charges against former President Donald Trump or any of his allies. Both would have likely attracted additional protestors to the city during an event that already has its fair share.

Although Georgia was key to Biden’s 2020 victory, the “Blue Wall” of the Midwest is also crucial to Biden’s chances in 2024. And the president might have chosen to dance with those who are solidly on his team instead of taking a risk in a swing state. After all, the 2012 convention in Charlotte didn’t help Barack Obama carry North Carolina that year.

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With Biden as the candidate, the DNC is going with the safe choices. If there is no way the convention will lose money and the union-run hotels will get the business, that’s the way they are going. Governor Pritzker has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, by the way, though that idea never really seemed to catch on. Maybe he will wait until 2028.

We’ll see how it goes for Chicago. Cities often don’t score the financial bonanza that convention boosters claim.

It is too bad that Georgia Republicans lost an opportunity to prove Democrats and their hysterical objections to Governor Kemp’s policies wrong. If the Democrat convention was held in Atlanta, Kemp and Republican lawmakers could have been vindicated. Democrats fought him over his economic agenda, abortion, gun control laws, and election laws. Despite all the opposition and dire predictions if Kemp’s policies became law, Atlanta was still the second runner-up for the party’s convention. The Democrats’ arguments were always malarkey.

For those of us of a certain age, it is hard to be a political junkie and not think of the 1968 DNC convention when the conversation turns to the 2024 convention being held in Chicago. I was young but I remember the news coverage of that event to this day. Let’s hope that the 2024 convention is nowhere nearly as memorable.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 24, 2024
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